Something which never ceases to amaze me is how estate agents have such an uncanny ability to capitalise on any opportunity. It’s really something to be admired, the absence of a hard sale makes it particularly difficult to spot, but like sharks who can smell blood at one part per million.
One should clarify, I like estate agents, it doesn’t mean I don’t know when they are making a market. The recent practice of only having three viewings or viewings that can only take place in one week is a recent addition to the toolbox which is designed to have a few effects.
This was something I thought was a bit sharp but rare, then today encountered three times in an afternoon of making calls. The method goes as follows:
1. List a property at a price so keen that it is bound to attract a lot of interest.
2. Field lots of calls as interested buyers ring in, about 7/10 will be tire kickers because the true price sought is way over list but the innocent/uninitiated will show up anyway.
3. Use the large volume of viewers (who all need to be there at the same time to witness each other and give credibility to the ruse) as the reason for why bids must come in now.
4. Tell people that bids are going to close within a few days and no more new bids will be accepted.
These things all act as limiters to a buyers ability to think a deal through, it creates an auction type environment where one doesn’t exist.
In one of today’s calls I saw a place listed for €30,000 less than it went on the market in 2012 for! Also little wonder that it was €140k over asking when I called and when I pointed this out they said that the ‘closed viewings & no new bidders’ could be altered a little to let me bid.
Half of me wanted to offer €300k over asking then delay until they pulled the contracts on me, of course one unethical turn doesn’t warrant another, but it does make it ever more clear to me that we need some changes in how the property market works.
In another recent case we advised a client to retract their offer because it happened last October and the buyer hadn’t bothered to send out a contract, we figured out that there were bank problems and our offer and booking deposit only served to act as a bargaining chip – at this persons expense!
It’s entirely unacceptable to keep a person on the hook for that long without any consequence.
Sadly, there is never any punishment for sharp practice and it tends to be almost entirely seller lead (20100-2012 it was buyer lead mostly), somebody somewhere will eventually see the practical issues this creates and make a call for change, as for us, we’ll just do our best in the imperfect world we have in front of us… although it’s often exasperating.